@jymyn86 Paul Copan’s book addresses that issue. Also, you may find the following resources helpful. The Canaanites, both women and men, were not simply innocent farmers - there was idolatry, violence and bestiality. In addition, it is not clear that the language of total destruction implies that the Canaanites were to be killed to the last person. It may mean, in ancient vernacular, that they were to be completely driven out of the land so that the Israelites would not be led astray by them.
The Canaanites Were Not Innocent Agrarian Farmers
The Canaanites were some bad dudes. They burned children alive in the arms of bronze statues of false gods and committed bestiality and a host of other such sins. Here is an article I found a while back detailing the nature of Canaanite degradation. It is also if interest that during the 4 generations God gave them to repent, the Canaanites degrade morally.
canaanites.pdf (873.7 KB)
Driven Out Instead of Completely Destroyed
Now go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy everything that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys .’” (1 Sam 15:2-3)
Paul Copan suggests that this language of ‘totally destroy’ was not literal, but was common military language used for complete victory, like when we say that one sports team ‘wiped out’ another one. He also suggests that the cities Israel wiped out were civilian targets; not military ones. And that God’s purpose was to drive the Canaanites out; not utterly destroy them.
Here is Copan’s article and a short summary of this position from another website.
"The record shows that Joshua fully obeyed the Lord’s command:
Thus Joshua struck all the land, the hill country and the Negev and the lowland and the slopes and all their kings. He left no survivor, but he utterly destroyed all who breathed, just as the Lord, the God of Israel, had commanded…. He left nothing undone of all that the Lord had commanded Moses. (Josh. 10:40, 11:15)
Still, at the end of Joshua’s life it was clear that many Canaanites continued to live in the land, left to be driven out gradually by the next generation (Josh. 23:12-13, Judges 1:21, 27-28). According to Copan, if Joshua did all that was expected of him, yet multitudes of Canaanites remained alive, then clearly the command to destroy all who breathed was not to be taken literally, but hyperbolically.
If these arguments go through—if God did not command the utter and indiscriminate destruction of men, women, and children by Joshua’s armies, but simply authorized an appropriate cleansing military action to drive out Israel’s (and God’s) enemies—then the critic’s challenge is largely resolved, it seems."
No Other Stream
Even though some of these questions are difficult, we recognize, as did C. S. Lewis, that God is not tame nor safe and yet He is the only source of true life - there is no other stream.
But although the sight of water made her feel ten times thirstier than before, she didn’t rush forward to drink. She stood as still as if she had been turned to stone, with her mouth wide open. And she had a very good reason: Just on this side of the stream lay the Lion. . . .
How long this lasted, she could not be sure; it seemed like hours. And the thirst became so bad that she almost felt she would not mind being eaten by the lion if only she could be sure of getting a mouthful of water first.
“If you’re thirsty, you may drink.” . . .
For a second she stared here and there, wondering who had spoken. Then the voice said again,
“If you are thirsty, come and drink.” . . .
It was deeper, wilder, and stronger; a sort of heavy, golden voice. . . .
“Are you thirsty?” said the Lion.
“I’m dying of thirst,” said Jill.
“Then drink,” said the Lion.
“May I — could I — would you mind going away while I do?” said Jill.
The Lion answered this only by a look and a very low growl. . . . The delicious rippling noise of the stream was driving her nearly frantic. . . .
“Do you eat girls?” she asked fearfully.
“I have swallowed up girls and boys, women and men, kings and emperors, cities and realms,” said the Lion. It didn’t say this as if it were boasting, nor as if it were sorry, nor as if it were angry. It just said it.
“I daren’t come and drink,” said Jill.
“Then you will die of thirst,” said the Lion.
“Oh dear!” said Jill, coming another step nearer. “I suppose I must go and look for another stream then.”
“There is no other stream,” said the Lion.
The Silver Chair , (New York: Harper Collins, 1953), Kindle Edition, locations 219-238.